I finished the Moral Animal. It is a great book, and I recommed it to any of the Hollow Men that want to tackle a broad survey of evolution, psychology, and philosophy.
I definitely admonish people to do what Shotts apparently had to do with the HP books and persevere through lengthy exposition (except in this case we can’t say Wright could have used a good editor, because apparently he is one). At times Wright will seem to be completely self-indulging in his hypothetical arguments, but keep reading – it all comes around. I feel that early in the book I could have skipped large sections, though I’m glad I didn’t.
I would like to thank J.E. for his recommendation, it has given me new insight into life (somewhat like Peters’ NVC recommendation). And I feel I do understand some of the formative influences on J.E.’s outlook and this makes me happy, as well as Peters’. And I have thoroughly enjoyed the recommendations from Shotts as well.
There is so much in the book that I can’t really respond to everything it covers (it kind of covers everything), but I am in primary agreement with most of Wright’s assertions, though that may be a misleading statement without qualifications. He is a generous mind, an attribute I would also ascribe to Stephen J Gould.
What I find extremely funny is that, in making his argument, Wright often brings up many of the exact issues we covered on the blog discussion, right down to actually comparing the characters of Mother Teresa and Donald Trump which I brought up in the earlier discussion with Peters. Wright also has a section in the back that specifically addresses the example of a soldier falling on a grenade which was also raised.
Both books do support the idea that humans are basically selfish (which is what Liz said, but I couldn’t discern if this was meant in a hopeless sense or a self-awareness sense), as well as self-serving, though not necessarily that everything we do we do to serve our own needs. Both books also encourage individuals to be conscious of this and why we are primarily self-serving, in order to resist this reality.
I would love to discuss the book further, but the blog, sadly, will simply not suffice for the depth of conversation needed. If you want to call me sometime, J.E., I’d love to chat with you about it or anyone else that reads it. I would say that if you were to reread the last eighty pages, from page 313 on to the end, you would see that with the Berger and Weil quotes I posted earlier we were never as far apart as was felt (at least as far apart as was felt by me at the time, if not you). You used the word freewill in a recent blog and this would make for an interesting discussion too.
My question for Toby is… “Got a recommendation?”